Acoustical Sheetmetal’s Power Play

Acoustical Sheetmetal Company Enters New Era of Powerful Leadership and Company Growth

by Grace Silipigni

The Virginia Beach-based Acoustical Sheetmetal Company (ASC) has experienced remarkable growth due in part to the data center industry. Its power integration systems have become the backup power solutions for some of the biggest players in the technology industry. What was once a two-man team is now a cutting-edge manufacturing firm boasting 550 employees and nearly 340,000 square feet of combined production space.

The company set down roots in 1996 when Dieter Steinhoff, a German immigrant and ductwork specialist, partnered with local generator salesman, Bill Tolberg, to create a business specializing in sound abatement enclosures for large-scale generators. Steinhoff’s company, STECA (and later Acoustical Sheetmetal Incorporated), was the first building block in what is now the Acoustical Sheetmetal Company empire.

From 1998 to 2007, Steinhoff and Tolberg worked out of a small production space on Witchduck Road with only a handful of employees. Among their original staff was ASC’s current Executive VP Sales & Engineering, Michael Ireland. “I started with the company part-time in 2001. Most of our business at that time was infrastructure work at wastewater treatment plants and hospitals along New York’s Northeast corridor. We built custom packages that were small enough to be put onto a truck and transported to clients,” explains Ireland.

Now the company manufactures far more complex and capable units that weigh close to 100,000 pounds. “We build fuel tanks and we design, using vendor products, a fuel distribution system either to and from the tank or from the tank to the generator and then we build a sound abatement enclosure to decrease the sound. We also install electrical distribution equipment in order to make that generator useful,” says Ireland.

As the units grew, so did the company. Its first big move occurred in 2007 when the team shifted operations to a larger facility on Production Road. They later broke ground on a second campus on Hudome Way in 2020. The 20-acre campus is now outfitted with two warehouses boasting 50-foot ceilings, over 200 tons of crane power and well-oiled production line operations. Behind the massive expansion was ASC’s new Chief Executive Officer, Margaret Shaia.

“[When we acquired the company in 2019], we knew it was going to grow, we just had no idea how quickly it was going to grow,” she says. “The data center industry has gone crazy in the last few years. Now sitting on top of that initial demand for storage is computing power needed to support the [artificial intelligence] craze.”

After capitalizing on the untapped AI market, rapid growth necessitated a robust quality control strategy. ASC established rigorous procedures to meet the stringent requirements of audits that permit ASC to do business with big names in the data center industry. The company also invested heavily in its employees. ASC offers comprehensive and fully-paid training programs for welding fundamentals. The company also offers tuition assistance for those interested in pursuing project management or electrical certifications.

Shaia and her team recognize the value of experienced employees and work tirelessly to foster a culture that promotes from within. “Many people who were here from day one now have senior positions in the company,” says Shaia. “What has made all of this possible is our team of 550 dedicated employees who have worked incredibly hard to grow this business. We are a tightly knit group and it’s been amazing to see what we’ve accomplished together.”

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